How to format your references using the The Astrophysical Journal Letters citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The Astrophysical Journal Letters. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Sarewitz, D. 2012, Nature, 485, 149
A journal article with 2 authors
Jutzi, M., & Asphaug, E. 2011, Nature, 476, 69
A journal article with 3 authors
Teuten, E. L., Xu, L., & Reddy, C. M. 2005, Science, 307, 917
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Jutzi, P., Mix, A., Rummel, B., et al. 2004, Science, 305, 849

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Giannini, F., & Leuzzi, G. 2005, Nonlinear Microwave Circuit Design (Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)
An edited book
Chen, C., & Larsen, R. 2014, Library and Information Sciences: Trends and Research (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
MacBride, F. 2007, in The Arché Papers on the Mathematics of Abstraction, ed. R. T. Cook (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands), 85

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for The Astrophysical Journal Letters.


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. 1994, Electronic Surveillance: Technologies Continue to Pose Challenges (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Obiedat, M. 2015, Incrementally Sorted Lattice Data Structures (Washington, DC: George Washington University)

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Walsh, M. W. 2014, New York Times, A10

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Montgomery 2004).
This sentence cites two references (Blank 2008; Lawrence 2002).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Jutzi & Asphaug 2011)
  • Three or more authors: (Thomas et al. 2004)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
AbbreviationAstrophys. J. Lett.
ISSN (print)2041-8205
ISSN (online)2041-8213
ScopeSpace and Planetary Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics

Other styles